“Should” Statements

These past few weeks, my mind has been clouded by “should” statements; “I should start lifting weights”, “I should keep my room tidier”, “I should have a job”.  These statements are assumptions that I make, because I feel pressure to be a certain way. I might not actively wish to be more muscular, have a more organized room, or even work, but these are all things I feel I ought to be or do.

Sometimes it is hard for me to realize what I truly want in life, or whether the expectations I put on myself are because I want to conform to societal norms. I am influenced by my surroundings which includes friends, social media, magazines, news and more. I forget that what works for others, isn’t necessarily what will work, or what needs to work, for myself.

In some cases, I don’t have a choice. For example, if I want to succeed in my schooling, I do need to study. However, at some point, it becomes a personal decision as to whether or not “I should study more”. This is where I run into some difficulty. I need to realize that the implementation of “should statements” is a cognitive distortion that only ever leaves me feeling guilty and wrong.

Right now one of my “shoulds” actually has to do with my education. I can’t tell if I am striving for a profession that I am truly passionate about, or because the title is “well respected” and something I have always seen myself achieving. While I am still early on in reaching my degree, for volunteer experience and course selection, I do need to decide where I see myself going. I guess I struggle a bit with finding my own identity.

Should statements can be difficult to break through, especially when my perfectionism continues to reinforce that nothing is “good enough”. The reality is, nobody is perfect, life can’t be viewed as black or white, and I need to accept myself for who I am. I don’t define others by “should” statements, so I need to stop living my life according to how I believe it “should be”. Things happen for a reason, what is meant to be will be, and happiness doesn’t come from worrying.

My goal for this week is to replace the shoulds that I truly believe in, with “I want” or “I will”. Should leads to shame, but a choice leads to action. ♥ Molly

“Shame should be reserved for the things we choose to do, not the circumstances that life puts on us.” – Ann Patchett 

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4 thoughts on ““Should” Statements

  1. This post definitely resonates with me. I have a lot of self imposed shoulds in my life that I am working on challenging! You write so eloquently about how no matter what you do, you always fail when you make a should statement. For instance, when I don’t listen to the should, I feel guilty. But when I do listen. I feel like I “should” be doing even more! This is a great post, and you make a good point about how having some shoulds is necessary. It’s all about finding the balance!

  2. Great post Molly! You should do what will make you happy. It’s hard to separate what we want from what society expects from us, good luck in your journey of trying to figure out the difference!

    • Thanks! You are so right, sometimes my values match societal norms, but when they do conflict, I have to learn to trust myself because it is most important to please myself!

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